Creed calls for flexibility to improve fairness of direct payments

Flexibility is needed to improve the targeting and fairness of direct payments, according to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed.

The minister made the comments while attending a meeting of the Council of EU Agriculture Ministers in Brussels today.

Commenting on the matter, he said: “While we are supportive of the commission’s efforts to better target direct payments, we must be mindful that the agriculture sector differs significantly across member states – in for example average farm size and agro ecological conditions.

In that context and in the spirit of subsidiarity envisaged in the European’s Commission’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) communication, member states should be given the flexibility to decide on how to improve the targeting and fairness of direct payments within their own country.

Minister Creed also supported the Commission’s efforts to increase the self sufficiency of protein production within the EU.

This was in the context of a discussion on “how coupled support could be better designed to contribute to CAP objectives and EU added value”.

During the meeting, Minister Creed also urged his colleagues to work together to ensure that CAP increases its environmental ambition; but, equally so that simplification is delivered for all stakeholders – including farmers.

It was noted by the minister that many of the issues discussed at today’s meeting under the CAP item were raised by stakeholders at recent CAP consultation meetings.

He reminded all those with a view on CAP post-2020 that two further public meetings will take place this week.

One is scheduled to go ahead in the Hodson Bay Hotel, Athlone, Co. Roscommon, tomorrow evening (February 20) at 8:00pm; the other is set to take place in the McWilliam Park Hotel in Claremorris, Co. Mayo, at the same time.

EU Bio economy Strategy

Meanwhile, the ministers at today’s meeting also had an exchange of views on the revision of the EU Bio economy Strategy and the role of the agriculture sector. A presentation by the commission on its EU Protein Plan was also delivered.

Minister Creed added that he “very much welcomes the strong emphasis on the bio economy within the CAP communication”.

There is, however, a need to better integrate farmers and foresters into bio economy value chains, he claimed.

Importantly, it also offers an opportunity to provide a diversified income stream for farmers and foresters – as well as contributing to more sustainable agriculture, the minister explained.